What is bitcoin?
This introductory video from WeUseCoins is a good place to start. Or, read or submit your own concise bitcoin explanation on Stack Exchange.
Okay, I watched the video, and I'm still confused. What exactly is mining? Are people just making bitcoins from thin air?
Not quite. When you exchange other currency for bitcoins, you get a very long alpha-numeric string. This alpha-numeric string is (essentially) the solution to a really big math problem. The math problem was designed by a group of very smart forward thinking people, and has 21,000,000 solutions. The problem isn't hard, it's just big, which means that while any human can work out a solution, it would take them a really long time to do it (like, weeks). So people write computer programs to do it for them. Essentially, these people are trading computer processing power for bitcoins. This process is called "mining." Please note that this is a very layman's explanation and is not perfectly accurate.
Is there a central group overseeing bitcoins?
No. Bitcoins were created by a number of different people around the globe as a highly decentralized all-digital currency - with a major emphasis on decentralized. No one person owns the bitcoin protocol, there are a number of companies who exchange bitcoins for real money, and lots of different people mine for bitcoins. It's experimental, and pretty amazing.
Are bitcoins 100% safe?
Nope. But no currency or investment is. Bitcoins are an experiment... one that seems to be succeeding. Only time will tell how stable the currency will be.
Bitcoins sound cool, but I'd still like more information.
You could check out the bitcoin wiki's Frequently Asked Questions. It's very technical, but very in depth. Here's the link.
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